Sommet régional, menace AQMI

Date:2009-10-25 09:28:00
Source:Embassy Algiers
DE RUEHAS #0948/01 2980928
O 250928Z OCT 09



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2029

ALGIERS 00000948 001.2 OF 004

Classified By: Ambassador David D Pearce; reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: Algerian Minister Delegate for Defense
Guenaizia told visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
(DASD) Ambassador Vicki Huddleston October 19 that the
Algerian, Mauritanian, Nigerien and Malian chiefs of staff
had agreed to set up a regional command for joint counter
terrorism operations at Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. He
indicated the command could eventually be expanded to include
Libya, Burkina Faso and Chad. For its part, Algeria was
determined that terrorists not be allowed to set up
logistics, training and supply bases along its frontiers,
i.e., in neighboring countries, with the intent of delivering
weapons and explosives to Algeria. Algeria has taken the
lead in sensitizing its southern neighbors to the nature of
the threat and the need for combined action. Huddleston
asked how the U.S. and others could support this effort.
Guenaizia replied that intelligence-sharing was fundamental.
So was provision of certain technical means, like IED
jammers. A delegation from Northrop Grumman was coming to
Algeria this week to discuss the capabilities of a Boeing 737
aircraft with a modified AWACS array. But the U.S. could
perhaps assist most before the impending Bamako summit by
helping secure the requisite top-level political will among
Sahel countries that would make the summit a success and
facilitate effective military cooperation. Here, he
contended, the biggest problem was the Malian political
leadership. The U.S. could help by talking to Mali and
others with influence in Mali to ensure the necessary level
of political will was there. Huddleston said she expected
the U.S. would indeed be engaging Mali and its neighbors to
help make the summit a success. Guenaizia welcomed the
expected visit of General Ward of Africa Command in late
November. END SUMMARY.


2. (C/NF) Visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
(DASD) Ambassador Vicki Huddleston met October 19 with
Algerian Minister Delegate for Defense Abdelmalik Guenaizia
and other senior generals, including Defense Ministry (MND)
SG Major General Ahmed Senhadji, MND Director of External
Relations and Cooperation General Mekri, MND Director of the
Directorate of Documentation and External Security (DDSE)
Major General Lallali and Colonel Mohamed Benmousset, Project
Manager for Major General Senhadji. She told Guenaizia that
the United States recognized Algeria's leadership in Africa,
including Algeria's history of support to Africa's
independence movements, promotion of economic and social
development, and on security matters. Huddleston
acknowledged Algeria's own experience in combating terrorism
and underscored USG appreciation for Algeria's lead on
efforts to secure the Sahel region and prevent terrorism from
taking root in neighboring countries. She recalled her
cooperation with Algeria when she was ambassador in Mali to
confront the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC),
forerunner of al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), after
the GSPC captured European tourists and brought them to
northern Mali from Algeria in 2003. Algeria's commitment to
combat GSPC in the region was clear, she said, and its
engagement with Mali was impressive. The U.S. played its
part through training to increase Mali's military planning
capacity. In the end, Huddleston concluded, we were
successful. GSPC fled Mali to Niger and then to Chad, where
GSPC leader "al-Para" was captured and returned to Algeria.
Huddleston noted the regional military chiefs of staff
meeting held in Tamanrasset in July and the planned regional
heads of state summit in Bamako demonstrated that Algeria
understood once more the importance of a coordinated regional
response to combat terrorism in the Sahel. The U.S.
recognized Algeria's commitment to working with the countries
of the region, she stressed, and Algeria's leading role in
that effort. She explained the goal of her visit was to
learn how the U.S. can support Algeria's effort.

3. (C) Guenaizia thanked Huddleston for focusing her
discussion on counterterrorism. Terrorism, he emphasized,
was not a local phenomenon in the region. It was brought
from outside with all its horrors, he said, and it is a
phenomenon the people of the region reject. When the threat

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first emerged in Algeria, the international community
misunderstood the scope of the problem and left Algeria alone
to fight in the 1990s. Algeria faced an international
embargo in its time of need, he said. Despite this embargo
and the challenge of protecting an area of 2.3 million square
kilometers and a population of 34 million, he said, Algeria
became self-reliant and prevailed with the overwhelming
support of the Algerian people the security services and the


4. (C/NF) Guenaizia said today the situation had improved
considerably, but terrorism remains a serious threat, and
Algeria will maintain the same level of pressure and
dedication to its counterterrorism efforts. He stressed,
however, that terrorism was not only a threat to Algeria, it
threatened the entire region and beyond. AQIM, he argued,
wants to embed itself in the region and, therefore, Algeria
intended to take the fight beyond Algeria's borders. Like a
skilled boxer, he said, the key is to keep pressure on your
opponent and increase your room for maneuver. Guenaizia made
it clear that Algeria will not tolerate a situation in which
AQIM or other armed groups are able to establish camps for
logistics and training along Algeria's frontier in
neighboring countries with the intent of facilitating the
entry of trained insurgents, weapons and explosives into

5. (C/NF) Guenaizia said the situation in northern Mali
presented the greatest obstacle to combating terrorism. The
nexus of arms, drug and contraband smuggling in northern Mali
created an enabling environment, Guenaizia argued, and
provided a source of logistical and financial support.
Guenaizia added that terrorists will use any means available
to finance their activities, including corruption and
hostage-taking. Thus, he underlined, fighting terrorism
requires "implacable" political will to neutralize all
avenues of support terrorists can exploit. Guenaizia
asserted that increased drug trafficking represented a
critical problem in this regard. Thousands of tons of drugs
now cross through the region, he said. Based on clashes with
Algerian security forces, Guenaizia assessed that those
involved in drug trafficking were well organized and had
military training. Guenaizia said that Morocco was a major
smuggling route for cannabis and hashish and was not doing
enough to interdict traffickers. Huddleston told Guenaizia
the U.S. was equally concerned with drug trafficking in
northwest Africa, particularly Colombian drugs transiting
west Africa and the Sahel en route to Europe. The drug trade
added another source of finance for terrorists, and its
destabilizing effect on local populations could expand the
geographic scope of terrorist recruitment efforts, she said,
citing the example of the Boko Haram in Nigeria.

6. (C) Guenaizia cautioned that the terrorist network in the
Sahel is a sophisticated organization. "These are not simple
warlords we are facing," he emphasized. They use the best
explosives, have honed their bomb-making expertise and use
sophisticated means to deploy explosives against their
targets, Guenaizia underscored. He added that information to
build highly sophisticated IEDs is easily obtainable from the
Internet. No country is safe, he went on; "We need to remain


7. (C/NF) Guenaizia noted that regional chiefs of staff met
in the southern Algerian city of Tamanrasset in July to
create a mechanism to allow militaries in the region to
coordinate efforts against terrorist threats while at the
same time respecting each country's sovereignty. Military
leaders of Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, he said,
agreed to establish a regional command in Tamanrasset that
will host military representatives from each country and
coordinate joint operations against AQIM targets. Joint
military efforts, Guenaizia elaborated, are necessary to
prevent AQIM from implanting itself in the region. He called
this the fundamental challenge. Regional military leaders are

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now sensitized to the problem, he asserted, and are willing
to wage a common CT campaign. He indicated that the command
could eventually be expanded to include Libya, Burkina Faso
and Chad. For its part, Algeria will provide resources to
optimize the command center's capacity. "What we can't
obtain among ourselves," he added, "we will seek from our

8. (C/NF) Guenaizia cautioned that, although the regional
command in Tamanrasset was an important first step, he didn't
expect immediate results. The meeting in Tamanrasset, he
noted, concerned military coordination, but successful action
hinged on two operational aspects: military readiness and
political will. Guenaizia said regional military leaders had
done their job, now it was up to the civilian leaders of the
region to demonstrate the political will to act. "We are
waiting for the Bamako summit," Guenaizia stressed.


9. (S/NF) As to how the U.S. and others could support the
regional effort, Guenaizia emphasized (repeating himself
three times to make the point) that sharing intelligence was
fundamental. Guenaizia reminded Huddleston that Algeria once
agreed to U.S. surveillance overflights years ago, but the
experience yielded few positive results for Algeria even
though the intelligence collected related directly to
Algeria's national security and used Algeria's sovereign
airspace. Huddleston replied that the U.S. and Algeria were
already sharing a lot of intelligence. There would be a
willingness to conduct overflights, but she underlined that
any overflight mission would have to be linked to direct
action on the ground. The cost of one mission, she
emphasized, was around USD 50,000, so we had to be sure of
the result. Huddleston suggested Guenaizia could raise this
matter during AFRICOM Commander General Ward's expected visit
in November.

10. (S/NF) The provision of technical means was also key.
Guenaizia complained that in many ways Algeria still faced an
embargo in regards to the provision of technical equipment,
including counter-IED measures and sensors for intelligence
gathering. He informed Huddleston that a Northrop Grumman
delegation will arrive in Algeria this week to discuss the
capabilities of an AWACS-type platform based on a Boeing 737
airframe. Algeria also needed sophisticated IED jammers, he
said. Insurgents use cell phones to detonate IEDs remotely,
he stressed, resulting in huge casualties for Algerian
forces. Guenaizia lamented that despite this critical need,
Algeria's partners had been slow in responding to Algeria's
request to purchase jammers. He did not refer directly to
U.S. end-use-monitoring rules, but he shared an anecdote
about Algeria's difficulties purchasing jamming technology
from Portugal, a request, he continued, that has been pending
for more than a year with no response.

11. (S/NF) He said the U.S. and others could perhaps assist
most before the Bamako heads of state summit by helping
secure the requisite top-level political will among Sahel
governments needed to make the summit a success and
facilitate effective military action. DDSE Major General
Lallali said the key to securing commitment for effective
cooperation rested with top-level leaders in Bamako. Lallali
said Mali's political leadership was the biggest problem.
"We need a signal from Bamako that shows their commitment,"
Lallali stated. Malians are suffering from terrorism, he
said, yet when local populations try to fight back, the
authorities crack down on those populations.

12. (S/NF) Lallali complained that Malian officials have
alerted insurgents that their cell phone calls were being
monitored and leaked sensitive intelligence. Lallali also
accused Mali of facilitating ransom payments for hostages.
He called Mali a favorable business environment for
terrorists and believed many wealthy and powerful families in
Mali benefited from illegal trafficking. He termed the Bank
of Bamako the "Terrorist Bank" and said, "we need to suppress
that bank," noting the connection between drug trafficking
and support for terrorist finance and logistics. Lallali
commented that Algeria's effort in the UN to criminalize

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ransom payments aimed to curb corruption's role in
facilitating terrorism. He implored DASD Huddleston to
"please do something with them."

13. (S/NF) Guenaizia agreed that trust was an issue with
Mali. Although Algeria has provided materiel and training
support to Mali to help resolve the Tuareg issue, it was not
inclined to give Mali weapons and communications gear because
of concerns that such equipment might be trafficked to Ivory
Coast or Guinea. Guenaizia said there was a "double
language" in Mali-- its political leadership did not share
the commitment Mali's military leaders demonstrated. In
order to succeed in the fight, Guenaizia affirmed, Mali had
to cooperate fully. The Bamako summit has to deliver a clear
political commitment. The U.S. could help by talking to Mali
and others with influence in Mali to ensure the necessary
level of political will was there. Huddleston agreed that
complicity in Mali regarding the desire to share in the
spoils of illegal trafficking seemed to have become worse
since her tenure as ambassador. She concurred that Mali's
cooperation was essential but said that engaging Mali was a
task for the entire region, not only Algeria. Huddleston
cited the potential role of other partners in the region with
influence in Mali, like Libya and Burkina Faso. She also
suggested involving the AU to press for a general statement
on fighting terrorism in the Sahel that would not single out
Mali but rather deliver a broad message that countries in the
region should act in concert and not allow terrorists to
operate with impunity. The U.S., she said, will engage Mali
and others in the region to play a constructive role in the
region's fight against terrorism.


14. (S/NF) Huddleston told Guenaizia that U.S. military
assistance in the region aimed to improve the capacity of
militaries in Mali, Mauritania and Chad through training and
equipment. President Tandja's bid for a third term in
office, she regretted, probably meant the U.S. will not be
able to assist Niger, but we will extend our assistance to
Burkina Faso soon. It was important, she stressed, that U.S.
efforts were in step with regional efforts already underway.
In this regard, Huddleston emphasized that communication
among regional governments and other partners, like the U.S.,
was essential. Huddleston referred to recent talks between
the U.S. and European allies on security in the Sahel, during
which the European Commission and France mentioned plans for
assistance. Guenaizia noted Europe's interest in getting
involved and said that some European governments had tried to
insert themselves into the Tamanrasset meeting. He bluntly
stated that Africa had already endured a period of
colonialism. Lallali interjected that European participation
could complicate matters.

15. (S/NF) Huddleston clarified that outside partners did not
have to be involved directly but needed to be apprised of
future steps and planning in order to provide support.
Huddleston suggested regular meetings by the MOD with the
Ambassador and DATT in Algiers. Guenaizia said he had no
objection, both with the U.S. and others. The threat concerns
all. But cooperation had to advance gradually. We should
review progress in stages, he added. Immediate efforts, he
reiterated, should focus on pressuring Mali and achieving a
successful summit in Bamako. The next step was to allow time
for standing up the regional command in Tamanrasset and
determining equipment needs. He suggested in two to three
months we might be able meet and take stock of that effort.
In this regard, Guenaizia welcomed the expected visit of
General Ward of Africa Command in November.

16. (U) DASD Huddleston did not clear this cable.

17. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

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